It's hard for a car company to compete these days without a competent small SUV. For years, Mazda had been (barely) selling their Tribute, a design they developed with Ford that was also sold as the Escape. It went on sale back in 2000 and eventually faded from the market after a 10-year run. But now Mazda finally has the fully modern, all-new CX-5. And this time Mazda is keeping this car for themselves.
In a quest to maximize fuel economy without the engineering cost or sticker shock of a hybrid, Mazda's worked to make the CX-5's basics extremely efficient. The standard SkyActiv 2.0-liter engine uses direct injection and a very high compression rate. However, at 155-hp, it's down around 20-40 horses in contrast to most competitors.
In order to compensate for the power deficiency, Mazda emphasized making the CX-5 light. Our CX-5 Touring AWD weighs 3,420 lbs. That's pretty impressive, but a Honda CR-V weighs only 30 pounds more, and it has another 30 horsepower. A diesel model is eventually expected, which would be quite distinctive in this market.
The CX-5 doesn't lack for features. To the contrary--our car has a power driver's seat, keyless ignition and entry, and a backup camera. Blind-spot monitoring is an unusual but very welcome feature in this segment. But like other Mazdas, the CX-5 is a bit short on audio content. Satellite radio is a pricey $500 option that we didn't get, and there are no voice controls for an iPod.
Our CX-5 Touring has the optional Bose stereo, a moon roof package, and a set of wheel locks. That brought the sticker up to $27,125. Since we, literally, bought the first one off of the dealer's lot about three weeks ago, the best haggling we could do was only get a few hundred dollars off the MSRP.
We're testing the CX-5 now to see how it stacks up to the redesigned-for-2012 CR-V, not to mention the Toyota RAV4, the CR Top Pick in small SUVs.